With identical 0–2 conference records, both the Yale and Penn men’s lacrosse teams are still looking for that first Ivy League win. One squad will get it tomorrow.
Yale will take on the Quakers (4–5, 0–2 Ivy) on Saturday at Reese Stadium in the first of two home contests this weekend. The Bulldogs (4–2, 0–2) have dropped their past two games against No. 5 Princeton and No. 6 Cornell after having started their season with four wins. They’ll get their first chance to turn the momentum around with the Penn contest, and then have another shot in the Easter Sunday special against Detroit Mercy.
Yale holds a 45–26 record in the all-time series with Penn, and has taken 24 of 36 games at home. While Penn has notched wins in three of the squad’s past four meetings, the Elis won the most recent encounter.
“They’re excellent,” head coach Andy Shay said of the Quakers. “They’ve only lost to top-10 teams. They are much improved on the defensive end for sure, they have two goalies who play well, and they have good players on offense.”
The Bulldogs scored in overtime to edge out Penn, 14–13, at Franklin Field in March last year. Yale closed a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game, and tallied the game-winner just 11 seconds into extra time.
Shay expects this year’s contest to be every bit as tight.
“It should be a close game,” he said.
The Quakers most recently suffered a 12–6 loss to Cornell. Penn enters the weekend 0–5 against nationally ranked teams.
Attacker Rob McMullen has led the Quaker offense so far this season with 15 goals. Midfielder Al Kohart has racked up 13 goals, the second most on the team.
On the defensive end, goalies Chris Casey and Joe Hegener have split time between the pipes. Casey has 52 saves to show for his some 295 minutes of play, while Hegener has recorded 33 saves during roughly 218 minutes in net.
While Yale has faced Penn since 1919, the Blue will play their first ever game against Detroit on Sunday. The Titans (2–6) have won their past two games, most recent recording an 11–8 victory against Virginia Military Institute.
As for the Elis, attacker Matt Gibson ’12 continues to lead the scoring with 12 goals on the season. Fellow attacker Brian Douglass ’11 just trails with 11 goals, while attacker and captain Brendan Gibson ’10 has notched 10. Johnathan Falcone ’11 has remained the go-to player in net — playing in all six games this season and starting in five.
But where the Bulldogs have really shone — thanks to midfielder Max Rodman ’10 — is in face-offs.
Rodman stepped up this season as Yale’s starting face-off man after middie Kevin Discepolo ’09 — who ranked among the top-15 face-off men in the nation for the 2009 season — graduated last spring. And so far, he’s certainly filling the shoes left by Discepolo. Rodman has won 78 of 127 face-offs this season and ranks fifth nationally.
“He’s doing a phenomenal job,” Shay said, adding that Rodman is one of the team’s hardest working members. “He’s a great kid and he’s carrying the torch that a number of great players have carried before him.”
Indeed, Yale largely owes its ranking as the fourth best at face-offs in the country to Rodman, who has taken all but 10 this season.
Rodman and the Elis will faceoff against Penn at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Sunday special against Detroit is slated for a 1 p.m. start.